Transition effects for videos - For a unique flavor & solid narrative

Video editors use transitions to tie their shots and clips together into a cohesive, polished program. Transitions can take many different forms, from straight cuts to fades and dissolves to full-blown 3D animations. VEGAS Pro offers a huge array of fully customizable, GPU-accelerated transitions for you to take advantage of. And all of these transitions can be further modified with the Transition Progress envelope (although we won't cover that in this article). Before you start using transitions in your projects, you should learn some video transition basics. Read on to demystify the world of transitions and learn how to use them for creative advantage in your videos!

What is a Transition, Anyway?

What is a Transition, Anyway?

We can describe a transition as any move between different shots in your video. Many people tend to think of transitions as always being flashy or noticeable, but the most-used transition is almost always invisible when used correctly – a simple cut. Simple cuts make up the majority of transitions you see in videos, whether you notice them consciously or not.

Types of Transitions and When to Use Them

Non-linear editors (NLEs) like VEGAS Pro put a wide variety of transition types at your disposal. Let’s break down the most common examples and discuss some of the best ways to use them, when to use them, and perhaps as importantly, when it’s best not to.

Standard Transitions – Use These Most of the Time

The most commonly used transitions are so because they work. They’re effective and they don’t distract or annoy the audience. These are the tried-and-true workhorses for video editors everywhere. For the vast majority of your transitions, use these:

Straight Cuts

As we said, the most common transition of them all; one clip ends and the next begins with no overlap and no gap between them. While most of the time straight cuts go unnoticed, you can make hard cuts between scenes for a jarring, dramatic effect, or use them for comedic timing.

Fades/dissolves

Often used to open or close out a scene, fading out of one scene to black (or sometimes white) and then fading back up into the next gives a sense of closure for the first scene and moving on to something new gracefully. You can often use fades to add a sense of conscious perception for the audience, such as fading out as a character goes to sleep or fading in when he or she wakes. Fading to black and staying on it for a few seconds before fading into the next scene can add a sense of time passage.

Cross-fades/Cross-dissolves

Fading one shot out while simultaneously fading the next shot in, instead of to white or black before fading into the next shot. With this type of transition, you'll see both clips on screen at the same time during the transition period. Cross-fades/cross-dissolves often make for excellent depictions of time passing or getting inside a character’s thoughts.

VEGAS Pro makes creating cross-dissolves easy – just position the beginning of one timeline clip event so that it overlaps the end of another event. The overlap between the clips automatically becomes a crossfade. The amount of overlap between the two events dictates how long the transition lasts. If you want, you can then drag and drop any other kind of transition, some of which we'll discuss next, into the overlap area and the crossfade becomes that transition instantly. No other software makes creating a transition faster or more logical.

Wipes and Flashes – Add Some Interest

These transitions find their way into professional works, but not nearly as much as the ones above. Use them to add visual interest or artistic emphasis, but be careful not to overuse them.

Wipes

Just like it sounds, these transitions appear to wipe one shot away with the next one. Often done as straight or angled wipes, other variations include shapes, like iris wipes (circles), star wipes, or heart wipes. Other variations include clock wipes, which appear to sweep around the face of a clock, or matrix wipes, which look like an array of growing shapes like stars or diamonds. Famously used in the Star Wars films and others, they can be very effective transitions between scenes, but you don’t see them often because they can start to tire an audience if used too much. And, if not used tactfully, or if not properly used for an intentional cheesy or comedic effect, they can make your production look amateurish. One very effective use of wipes, though, can be to connect two different shots in a quick pan to make them look like one continuous shot.

Flashes

Somewhat similar to very quick cross-fades, these use a bright (sometimes colored) flash to move between shots. Use flash wipes to emphasize quick points, but too much flashing will exhaust viewers very quickly.

Variations – Only Occasionally, With Purpose

The following transitions are similar to wipes, but they’re almost never used in narrative works. They can be effective in short, punchy videos like commercials, but may come across as “amateur” in more serious presentations.

Slides

Much like it sounds, one shot slides out to reveal the next. You might use these in a “slide show” style presentation.

Pushes

Looks like the first shot is “pushed” out of the frame by the next shot.

Barn doors

The first shot “opens up” like sliding doors to reveal the next shot.

Splits

The first shot “splits” open to reveal the next shot, similar to a barn door, but the shot may split into fours and slide out to the corners of the frame, or other variations.

3D Transitions – Use Sparingly and Only if it Makes Sense

Most of these transitions should be used sparingly, if at all. If you do use them, make sure you have a pretty darn good visual reason for it. They may have a place in quick-moving, high-intensity videos, certain types of commercials, or perhaps brief informational videos. You may even find an artistic reason to use them in longer-form or narrative work. But for the most part, look to other transitions before these.

Page Rolls/Peels

One shot appears to “roll up” or “peel off” and reveal the next shot.

Cascades/Blinds

The next shot appears to cover the first shot like a Venetian or vertical blind, with “slats” turning or rolling in.

Fly In/Fly Out

The next shot flies in to cover the first one, or the first shot flies out to reveal the next.

Specialized Transition in VEGAS Pro

VEGAS Pro now gets the brand new warp flow transition.

The Warp Flow transition

The Warp Flow transition creates intermediate frames between two shots for the appearance of a seamless transition between the two. You can use this as a cool, sci-fi style effect to “morph” one shot into the next, or you can use it smooth over a jump cut, so that objects between two shots don’t “jump” as they might if you remove some frames from a clip, or try to cut together separate takes of the same shot.

Warp Flow Transition Warp Flow Transition
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